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SCAR EXCOM 2015 WP18: Report from the SCAR Humanities and Social Sciences Group (HASSEG) Popular

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SCAR EXCOM 2015 WP18: Report from the SCAR Humanities and Social Sciences Group (HASSEG)
SCAR Executive Committee Meeting
26 - 28 August 2015, Tromsø, Norway

SCAR EXCOM 2015 WP18: Report from the SCAR Humanities and Social Sciences Group (HASSEG)

Working Paper: 18
Agenda Item: 2.3.3
Posted/Revised: 13 Aug 2015
Person Responsible: D. Liggett

Executive Summary

Title: Report of the SCAR Humanities and Social Sciences Expert Group

Authors: D. Liggett, E. Leane, S. Chaturvedi, A. Hemmings, H. Nielsen, J. O’Reilly, J. F. Salazar, A. Shibata & G. Steel

Introduction/ Background:
Increasingly, Antarctic institutions and stakeholders acknowledge the costs and benefits of human activities in Antarctica not merely from an economic perspective but also from environmental, ethical, social, cultural and geopolitical standpoints. Policy-makers, educators, scientists and the wider public are required to consider multiple competing factors when forming opinions and courses of action in relation to Antarctica. Understanding the meanings, values, images and narratives that humans attach to the Antarctic has significant implications for human engagement with and activity in the region.

Important Issues or Factors:
Social scientists and humanities researchers have the expertise and tools to lead an academic assessment of questions linked to human presence in the Antarctic, in particular its cultural, political, social and behavioural dimensions. The Humanities and Social Sciences EG (hereon “the group”) was initially established (as the Social Sciences Action Group) to carry out research targeted at understanding the range of values underpinning human engagement with Antarctica. With the granting of Expert Group status at the SCAR Delegates Meeting in 2014, the group was renamed to signal a broadening of disciplinary range, and developed a more diverse set of research foci, including those generated by the first SCAR Antarctic and Southern Ocean Horizon Scan. This expansion promises considerable long-term benefits, especially with regard to understanding human behaviour, impacts, influence and decision-making in an Antarctic context.

Recommendations/Actions and Justification:
We request that the Expert Group be maintained into 2016 to consolidate its expansion of research foci, to continue to incorporate a wide range of social sciences and humanities disciplines, and to foster collaborations across these disciplines and with the physical and biological sciences.

Expected Benefits/Outcomes:
The group will continue to raise the profile of SCAR in the public realm and in social sciences and humanities research communities by demonstrating that SCAR supports multi-disciplinary research efforts outside of the physical and biological sciences. Social sciences and humanities enquiries and analyses through this group will materially increase intellectual engagement with Antarctica as place and idea, thereby contributing to polar research, but will also help SCAR to better ground its scientific advice in a thorough understanding of the drivers of human engagement with the Antarctic. A range of academic publications resulting from this research effort will bolster SCAR’s scholarly record in the social sciences and humanities.

The group collaborates with the SCAR History EG, as highlighted by a joint SCAR History and Social Sciences conference with the theme “Antarctic Wilderness” (Fort Collins, Colorado, 20-23 May 2015), a joint session at the SCAR OSC in 2014 and 2015, and a joint workshop (Cambridge, UK, 1-5 July 2013). Future joint events are under discussion.

Budget Implications:
The group requests the standard operating budget for SCAR Expert Groups ($5000 per year).